By Mitchell Roland

During Tuesday’s (May 4, 2021) Kent City Council meeting, Kent Mayor Dana Ralph discussed a conversation she had with Sen. Patty Murray and several other south sound mayors, regarding COVID-19 relief.

The conversation occurred earlier that day and included Murray, Ralph, the mayors of Redmond, Burien and Auburn, as well as a councilmember from Renton.

“[Sen. Murray] had reached out, wanting to get some feedback on the impacts of COVID-19 on cities, as well as what we were planning on using that American Recovery money for,” Ralph told the council. “So, it was an informative conversation as far as the impacts across cities is deep and wide, and trying to figure out what we do for recovery.”

Ralph said that in the conversation, she reiterated the importance of funding for city governments.

“We were really able to share the impacts, and also our thankfulness for Sen. Murray on championing the money going to cities,” Ralph said. “The recognition that cities are the closest level to our residents, and we have a much better understanding of what our residents and businesses need.”

During the meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Derek Matheson said the American Rescue Plan Framework Committee held a meeting last Thursday. During a previous city council meeting on April 20, Matheson said the goal of the committee is to develop a “high-level framework” for Kent’s $28.41 million in federal recovery funds.

“We spent the bulk of the time going through revenue losses from the COVID-19 period,” Matheson said during Tuesday’s meeting. “I want to thank our finance department for the great work to put that together.

Matheson said the committee also discussed potential categories of investment that they could use the money for.

“We’ll get together in mid-May, after the US Treasury Department issues its guidance on the use of those funds,” Matheson said.

The $28.41 million Kent receives will need to be by the end of 2024. Any framework The American Rescue Plan Framework Committee develops will also need to be passed by the full city council. The American Rescue Plan Framework Committee consists of Mayor Dana Ralph, two councilmembers, Matheson and the Kent Finance Director.

Kent submits congressional earmark
During the meeting, Matheson said that “congressional earmarks are back,” and that the city had submitted an earmark for the Meet me on Meeker project in the Kent valley. The earmark comes after the end of a 10-year pause on Congressional earmarks.

“It was challenging because each Senator or Representative has a different application process, and the timelines have been very aggressive,” Matheson said. “But we’ve been able to submit a Kent project, and we’ll continue to advocate for that.”

Contract awarded for water main replacement
The Kent city council has also awarded a contract for a water main replacement project to Northwest Cascade, Inc. for $914,286.27. This project will replace existing water mains on East Titus St. and East Saar St. A new water main on Veterans Drive, just east of Military Rd., will also be constructed.

Chad Bieren, the interim public works director, said the water main on Veterans Drive will eventually connect to a new west will reservoir.

“We’re putting that in right now because there’s a development going in on the top of the hill, we’re taking advantage of the construction they’ll do to put the water main in now,” Bieren said.

The project will also replace storm pipe systems, sidewalk curb ramps, pavement and other related work items necessary to restore affected infrastructure.